How to Make Oatmeal Soap: 4 Techniques to Try

Add Oatmeal to Any Soap Making Recipe

How to Make Oatmeal Soap: 4 Techniques to Try

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You can learn how to make oatmeal soap within a few minutes of research. It’s one of the easiest and safest recipe additions.

Whether you’re crafting a stunning “oatmeal stout” bar, with a heady fragrance and a rich brown tone topped with creamy white, or an unscented and dye-free bar for a friend’s eczema, adding oats to soap provides soothing properties to any recipe.

Oatmeal Soap Properties

Used since ancient times as a skin soother and softener, oats contain phenolic alkaloids which reduce inflammation, itch, and irritation. Egyptian oat baths treated eczema and burns in addition to anxiety and insomnia. Since 1980, scientists have discovered why avenanthramides, the specific alkaloids, reduce inflammation and histamine responses. Colloidal oatmeal became an FDA-approved topical treatment in 2003.

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Colloidal oatmeal is oats that have been finely ground then suspended in a liquid or gel. This allows it to disperse evenly so it’s better for lotions or other topical treatments that must be absorbed into the skin. Whether colloidal or quick-cooking, oats have soothing properties. Oatmeal’s anti-inflammatory properties allow it to calm chronic skin conditions like eczema. Antihistamine action means it soothes rashes and itch from allergic reactions.

Not-so-medical benefits of oatmeal are emollient (skin-softening) and exfoliating (removing excess dead skin) properties. It also balances skin’s pH, which helps acne sufferers. Using an oatmeal-based skin care product makes sense for a calmer, clearer, softer complexion. Adding it to recipes which are already emollient or soothing, such as honey or goat milk soaps, improves these qualities and produces a wholesome and aesthetically pleasing product.

Though colloidal oatmeal is good for ointments and lotions, it’s not necessary to acquire this product for soap making. If you’re just learning how to make oatmeal soap, don’t fret. The cheapest old-fashioned oats are perfect.

How to Make Oatmeal Soap

As an additive, oatmeal isn’t part of the main soap recipe that includes oils, lye, and liquid. Unlike goat milk soap recipes, which use milk as all or part of the water percentage, oatmeal is free from worrisome safety precautions and sensitive calculations. This is a benefit to all soap makers because oatmeal can be added to any recipe.

Each soap recipe does have certain considerations when it comes to adding oatmeal, though. These are minor and mainly have to do with suspension, clumping, or quick trace. But with all oatmeal soap recipes, first chop rolled oats in a blender or food processor until they resemble a coarse meal. This keeps oat particles from floating in your tub or clogging your drain.

Photo by Shelley DeDauw

When making easy soap recipes for beginners, first decide whether you’re doing melt-and-pour or rebatch techniques.

Melt-and-pour soaps involve purchasing a pre-made block of soap base. This is the safest soap making method because the step involving lye has been done long ago. All you do is melt the base in a microwave or double boiler, add fragrance or color, then pour into desired molds so it can harden. Melt-and-pour bases come in clear glycerin types, opaque white, and mixes using olive oil, goat milk, honey, or other natural additives along with the manufactured ingredients which allow repetitive melting and pouring.

How to make oatmeal soap using melt-and-pour bases: First, get all fragrances, additives, and molds ready. With a sharp knife, cut a portion of soap base from the block. Melt it in a double boiler or microwave-safe container. Mix in any color and fragrance first, blending well, before adding oats. There is no specific ratio, but don’t add so much that you’re making an oat paste bound together with soap. Also, if your soap is too hot, the oats may not blend evenly; they might sink to the bottom or float to the top. Letting soap cool just enough that it starts to form a skin allows the oatmeal to suspend throughout.

Rebatching involves grating down a bar of previously made soap, melting it with a little liquid, and pressing into molds. Again, the step with the lye has been done. But rebatching gets much hotter than melt-and-pour soap, so it may not be appropriate for younger children.

How to make oatmeal soap by rebatching: Obtain a bar of pre-made soap. Old-fashioned and natural recipes work best because commercially made detergent bars might not melt or mix as desired. Add a little liquid such as water, goat milk, or juice: just enough to wet the soap. Heat on low in a slow cooker, stirring occasionally, until the soap becomes a thick and sticky compound. Add in desired fragrances and ground-up oatmeal. Stir well then press the mixture into individual molds. Allow soap to cool.

How to make oatmeal soap using hot process: This method involves using a heat source, usually a slow cooker, to turn the base recipe into soap before it’s ever poured into the mold. Oils, lye, and water are mixed then cooked until saponification: the point at which it becomes soap. Fragrance and color are then added to the thick but smooth mixture. Oatmeal can be added at this same point: after the gel stage but before the soap enters the molds. Be careful because the mixture is extremely hot and may be so thick it doesn’t pour evenly.

And finally, how to make oatmeal soap using cold process: As with hot process, do not add the oatmeal with the initial ingredients. Mix the oils, water, and lye then agitate until it reaches “trace.” After this point, mix in fragrance, colorants, and oatmeal. Stir well, pour into molds, and set where soap can “gel.” Because of the high alkalinity of raw soap batter, the oatmeal may darken during the weeks to months of cure time. It also may darken with any soaps which contain sugars in the initial batch, such as goat milk or honey recipes, because the sugars cause the mixture to heat up during gel stage. If you’re learning how to make coconut oil soap, it’s best to add oatmeal as soon after trace as possible because coconut oil hardens much faster. Adding oatmeal then immediately pouring into molds ensures there are no air bubbles as the batter thickens or even seizes.

And with all soaps, remember that one of the best things about oatmeal soaps is the wholesome and natural aesthetic. Oats’ skin benefits are available in soap of any color, but loved ones or customers usually prefer their oatmeal soaps to be uncolored or in earth tones. They also prefer scents reminiscent of baking: chocolate, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, etc. To some people, unscented and un-dyed soaps are priceless for sensitive skin. If you scent or color your soaps, only use colors/fragrances that are skin-safe. Essential oils should be researched to assure they are acceptable on the skin or around the eyes.

Learning how to make oatmeal soap can be the easiest and most beneficial soap making technique. It’s achievable with all methods and provides essential skin benefits. Follow a few guidelines for each technique to ensure the best outcome.

Do you know how to make oatmeal soap? Do you have any advice for new soap makers?

Technique How to Add Oatmeal Special Considerations
Melt and Pour Melt soap. Add fragrance, color, and oatmeal.
Pour into molds and allow to harden.
If soap base is too hot, oatmeal may not suspend well.
Let base cool until it starts to form a skin.
Rebatch Grate soap. Melt in a slow cooker with a little liquid.
Stir in fragrance, color, and oatmeal. Scoop and press into molds.
Mixture is very hot and thick. Adding oatmeal will make it thicker.
Use strong tools to fully stir ingredients together before molding.
Hot Process Make soap as directed, “cooking” it to gel stage.
Add fragrance, color, and oatmeal. Scoop and press into molds.
Soap is extremely hot. Certain fragrances may cause it to seize.
Be prepared to scoop quickly if it hardens too fast.
Cold Process Make soap as directed, agitating it to trace stage.
Add fragrance, color, and oatmeal.
Pour into molds and allow it to gel.
Raw soap batter is very alkaline. Avoid contact with skin.
Alkalinity and other ingredients may cause oatmeal to darken over time.

Ask the Expert

Do you have a soapmaking question? You’re not alone! Check here to see if your question has already been answered. And, if not, use our chat feature to contact our experts!

I like to know what’s the benefits of use cinnamon in m&p soap making? – Atu

Use of cinnamon in melt and pour soap is going to be purely for aesthetic reasons. For instance: if you would like a nice cinnamon-brown color in your soap but don’t want to resort to dyes or pigments. If you made oatmeal soap using a melt and pour base, you may want to sprinkle a little cinnamon in the mold before pouring, so the finished soap resembles a baked good. There is a small chance some cinnamon fragrance would present in the soap, but it wouldn’t be much.
Cinnamon bark oil HAS been shown to have antimicrobial effects against certain drug-resistant bacterial strains. However, use of cinnamon oil is highly irritant to skin when used full-strength, and to achieve a concentration high enough to harness these antimicrobial properties, your soap would cause more problems than do any good. Scientists who studied these effects recommend diluting cinnamon oil at NO HIGHER than one drop per 30-40mL of carrier liquid if you’re going to use it on skin or hair. If you want a cinnamon fragrance in soap, and don’t want any other fragrances (essential oils) that can dilute cinnamon bark oil and its potential to cause contact dermatitis, I recommend choosing a fragrance oil blend from a reputable soap supply company. – Marissa

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